Guildford closed the gap on London 2 South-West leaders Gosport by beating Winchester 30-19.

Despite the defeat, the mood in the Winchester camp is positive after a much improved performance.

In a match in which the lead changed hands four times, Winchester looked much more like a team than they have for a while, and made Guildford work for a victory that was tighter than the scoreline suggests. Coach Andy Fields said: “I had a feeling before Christmas that things could only get better. Now I can see that they are.”

Guildford were 10-0 up on 11 minutes, but Winchester soaked up all the physical punishment the hosts could offer.

They held the Guildford attacks at bay and got themselves on the scoreboard when Matt Lown was stopped short but flipped the ball up to Jim Beavan who crashed over. Connor Breen converted.

Winchester went ahead when winger Tom Foster crossed in the corner, but the home side replied with a penalty to turn around 13-12 up.

The first 20 minutes of the second half was all Winchester – with tighthead prop Beavan putting his side back in front.

However, with some Winchester players tiring, Guildford scored two more tries and kicked seven points for the 30-19 win.